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The Love Song of Monkey

A Novel by Michael Graziano

Kitty drove me to the hospital at two in the morning. I sat in the back seat so that I could lie down if I wanted to. I didn’t put on my seat belt because I didn’t like the way it pinched me around the middle. I had a blanket pulled around me, tented around my shoulders, and the blue fuzz from the blanket kept snagging on my facial stubble. I hadn’t shaved in two days and Kitty said that my face was growing Velcro. Everything stuck to it. Blankets, socks, bits of lint and tissue.

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In a surreal exile on the floor of the Atlantic, a young man faces his own death and his wife’s infidelity. With a deepening understanding of himself and his place in the world, Monkey travels a path through the most important landscape of all – the inner landscape of the soul. Monkey is a meditation on the simple, inexplicable, and lasting power of love, cast in the metaphor of a journey to the depths of the ocean floor. Precise and beautifully crafted, this modern fable is rich with humor and deep thought.

"Neuroscientist and author Graziano (Hiding Places) has crafted a compelling fantasy based on a semi-plausible "what if": a physicist constructs a state-of-the-art machine in which a terminal patient undergoes a complete molecular rearrangement, coming out "unbreakable." Narrated by Jonathan, a married 20-something dying of AIDS, the novel begins with a trip to Dr. Kack, of the experimental, highly secred Kwark-King cure, which Jonathan's wife, Kity, has insisted he try. The machine hasn't exactly been successful--the intense pain has driven patients to opt out, and animals to die--but Dr. Kack manages to get Jonathan all the way through. Jonathan does, indeed, emerge transformed, but in a kind of waking coma that looks a lot like death. As such, Kitty and Dr. Kack drop his body in the ocean, an dthe bulk of Graziano's imaginative, intelligent narrative chronicles Johathan's ethereal voyage beyond civilization and back again as a kind of superhuman, sustained by his love for Kitty. Twin ideas of forgiveness and mercy twist throuh this strange, moving, patiently wrought novel, making for a trippy but charming read."

--Publishers Weekly, September 2008

"I just finished The Love Song of Monkey, a novel by Michael S.A. Graziano.  What a strange, but wonderful book this is!  I can tell you it’s like nothing I have ever read before.

The book is about a man who is dying from AIDS. He agrees to be part of an experiment that just might kill him, but could also make him perfect and invulnerable.  Well, the cure works, but it causes him to fall into a deep and meditative stupor.  The man who experimented on him dumps the body in the Atlantic Ocean to cover his tracks, and that’s when the real adventure begins.

The Love Song of Monkey is a very short book at only 149 or so pages, but the scope is epic in detail.  It’s an easy, thought-provoking read.  In short I enjoyed the heck out of this book, and plan on loaning it to my friends and family."

--Geekscribe, October 27, 2008

"Original and clever, intelligent and very funny...you are in the hands of a highly inventive and confident writer...Graziano's book should be required reading in the writing grad schools...There's nary a word wasted, nor any signs of adverbia, adjectivia, or rubble of the writer's brain in this work. What is left is comedy, retrospection, betrayal, tenderness, meditations on loneliness, and a love story that survives all attempts to suppress it. That's not bad within 149 pages, which puts "The Love Song of Monkey" in one of my special categories--a book I can hardly wait to read again."

--The Barnstable Patriot, October 30, 2008

"Mindful of Spielberg's A.I., this is a fascinating dreamlike character study that insists the power of love enable people to do extraordinary deeds...A whimsical parable that focuses on the strengths and weaknesses of humanity with the message of "To err is human; to forgive is devine" by Alexander Pope running throughout the deep story line."

--Midwest Book Review, December 2008

"An amalgam of fairy tale, satire, science fiction, medical thriller, and soap opera, it is difficult to fathom that a novel so brief can be so epic in scope. Though it hearkens back to an earlier generation of writers like Shelley and Verne, it inhabits a place on the modern literary grid closer to the quirky style of George Saunders than to the popular novels of Michael Crichton. This rewarding and compelling tale, though it strains belief at every turn, ultimately weaves its way to a place of universal hope and enduring love. Inventive and deftly crafted, The Love Song of Monkey is a tale no reader will soon forget."

—Eric Linder, owner of Yellow Umbrella Books, Chatham, Mass.

"An hilarious, dark, brittle take on post-modern medicine, love triangles, the dense emptiness of contemporary life, and the liberating power of contemplative self-discovery. Part magic realism, part theater of the absurd, and part over-the-top, unrepentant spoof, this novella packs more into its meager 100 pages than do most epic trilogies. At its heart is a meditation on the simple, inexplicable and lasting power of love, cast in the metaphor of a journey—to the depths of the ocean floor, across volcanic eruptions and along the ledges of skyscrapers.

"From quirky—or should that be Kwarky?—opening to the classic lovers’ reunion ending where not even death can part them, Graziano has fabricated the rare kind of tale that the reader can honestly say ends much too quickly. Perfectly woven, self-enclosed, multi-faceted … It’s Kosinski’s Being There sprinkled with a strong dose of Frankenstein … the kind of simplicity that speaks volumes."

—Michael Mirolla, author of The Formal Logic of Emotion and Berlin

Also by this author: The Divine Farce (Leapfrog); God Soul Mind Brain (Leapfrog); The Intelligent Movement Machine (Oxford University Press)

Michael S. A. Graziano, professor of psychology at Princeton University, puts his knowledge of the human psyche to brilliant use in his award-winning fiction. Of Monkey, he says: “Two lines of T. S. Elliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” got into my head and rummaged around for years: ‘I should have been a pair of ragged claws/scuttling across the floors of silent seas.’ I thought, what would it feel like to actually be those claws on the bottom of the ocean? What psychological state of love and desperation would lead one down there? I finally decided to write what I felt about those two lines of poetry, and the result was The Love Song of Monkey.”

To Graziano, there are no true divisions among fiction, music, and science. He’s tried them all and married them together in startlingly original blends. His work on the brain has been featured in the New York Times, Science Magazine, and Glamour Magazine. He is the author of The Intelligent Movement Machine (Oxford University Press, 2008), the novella “Hiding Places” (New England Review, 1998), and The Seclusion Zone (under contract). His blend of talents are a treat in The Love Song of Monkey, a work that is as much a musical song, a painting, a poem, and a comment on modern medical science as it is a novel.

CATEGORY: Fiction
PAGES: 152
TRIM: 5.25 x 7.5
ISBN: 978-0-9815148-0-2
PRICE: $13.95 / Paperback Original
Pub Date: November 2008 

 

 

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